Sunday, September 14, 2008

To Vienna and Back Again

So it's been a few days since my last post, and we have been to a million different places and seen a million different things, and I'm not quite sure how I feel about it all right now. It's rainy outside and it's been a long day and I'm exhausted. I am continually impressed by just how much of a learning experience this is. We are trying to learn the right words to communicate with the culture around us, and everything we see prompts questions and thoughts that we have never faced before. We are also still trying to adjust to each other as a group. Most of us didn't know each other until a week ago, and trying to build relationships in this situation creates two possible scenarios: we either really really like each other, or we really really don't find any compatibility with one another. Our first week in Salzburg was spent together; we have twelve people in our group staying at Haus Wartenberg: 1 Professor John Hicks, and six girls and five boys. This was a good opportunity for us to bond and create friendships and sort of figure one another out. This weekend was our first weekend to travel outside of Salzburg, and we chose to go to Vienna. This we chose to do as a group because we only had Saturday and Sunday to travel, and we weren't quite ready to split apart yet. It turned out to be a very significant learning experience. The Vienna cards that we purchased did NOT give us the bang for our Euro buck that the Salzburg card did- we estimated that 18 Euro per 10 people totaled at about 135 Euro, and most of us wound up using it solely for Metra passes and not for the crappy discounts to the ridiculously overpriced museums that we couldn't seem to locate. That being said, we still had a wonderful time. Vienna is a very different city from Salzburg, with breathtaking architectural features. One fountain that I fell in love with stood outside of the Austrian Parliament building:
(Isn't that SO BEAUTIFUL???)

Later Saturday night we went to a film festival in downtown Vienna, which turned out to be an amazing choice for dinner and fun. They had a large screen attached to the front of an old government building, with seating and different food vendors there so that people could hang out and enjoy. We stayed at Hostel Husseldorf last night, which was quite the experience. The facility itself was nice- the rowdy guys down the hall were not. Traveling back to Salzburg today also turned out to be quite the ordeal. I realized right as we were leaving this morning that I had left my camera in a cafe last night, so Danielle, Brenda, and I hopped the UBahn back into the city and sprinted across downtown Vienna, found my camera (thank GOD!) and made it to our station in time to see our train leave without us. Thankfully, Chris and Case stayed behind to keep us company. Unfortunately, because we missed the train and had to wait another hour for the next one, we were too far behind the rest of our group to make it to Mathausen, which is a concentration camp memorial site that we had planned on visiting today.
I hadn't planned on explaining all of the ups and downs of our first weekend trip, but the thing is that I learned so much about how this experience is really going to be. Europe isn't as glamorous as people make it out to be. It's at once beautifully intricate and complicated and raises so many questions about where we come from (after all, it is the birthplace of the Western Culture). We're visiting our Motherland. We're exploring ideas and concepts that have so many dimensions that we cannot quite grasp. For instance, when we visited Schloss Schonbrunn, the summer residence palace for the Habsburgs, it was beautiful and vast, but even as we stood there admiring it we wondered how many citizens starved to death while it was being built.I'm glad that we're being given the opportunity to explore these things, and I am excited for classes to start tomorrow so that we can actually begin to understand how the things we're seeing have affected Europe and in turn the world. I'll let you know what the new day brings. :)

1 comment: said...

Bethany!!!! I'm so glad to see/hear that everything is going soo well! I'm not gonna lie, I'm super jealous right about now w/ Volkman being flooded and all that jazz. I would love nothing more than to be in gorgeous Europe gallavanting about :] You're in our prayers and I hope all is well! <3 Mackenzie